Technology Bites Back Sometimes.. Who decides what is STEM and what expectations should we have for teachers using technology?

I am glad I am mentoring teachers for technology use with a solution for their technology problems. The online course that I decided to take after reading posts on the ECTC Journal was a wrong turn that I took recently. I went in unprepared to be found wanting.

ETC Journal

A journal for educational technology & change has great articles and so I was convinced I needed to make sure my technology was up to date.

Because I am not currently taking a course and did not go to ISTE, I decided to re-up my skills by taking the Certification Course for the National Geographic. It’s new, it’s different and I have been working with the National Geographic for a long time. Who could have predicted that I would be found wanting? But let me explain. There is a new technical divide and I could not qualify.

Here is the course National Geographic Educator Certification and it is a good one. You meet international people and explorers and you have a group of people who support you in your work. I am working in a community based organization with nothing but my laptop and tools and my intent was to start new technologies and inspire kids with all of the resources that National Geographic has to offer. I ran into a technical divide.

Who knew that some of the course was misleading?I do videos of field trips on the way back from the field trips. I used Google Glass to make a video for a school in Russia when I was working in exchange. So listening to the cohorts and viewing the expectations, I surely did not worry. They passed off the video as a minor kind of thing. But what they referenced as tools to work with . ouch!!!

Here is what they said…

Bringing it All Together: Teaching About the World

“At National Geographic, we believe that a well-rounded education provides young people with the knowledge of how the human and natural worlds work at local, regional, and global scales. This type of education also teaches young people to use different perspectives to understand the world.”

So I jumped at it. The course was beautiful until I got to the Capstone part. If there had been a real person or a time when you were face to face with a mentor I would not have failed. I believed them when they said that creating a video was not a big deal. It was a big deal. It was a painful learning process which I learned. Relearned , relearned, relearned..until I got tired.

They said “
We know that for many of you this will be your first experience creating, editing, and sharing your work in video format. Not to worry: most certified educators made their first movie in this course! We want the certification experience to challenge and push you, and the capstone video is a compelling way to tell your story. At National Geographic we have a long history of storytelling through a variety of media, and we are excited to welcome you into the National Geographic family through this valued tradition. Just like you ask your students every day to learn something new and take risks, we hope this helps you go further in your own work as an educator, storyteller, learner, change maker, and explorer. They estimated nine hours of work/ I don’t think so.

Nowhere did it say that the tools that they suggested would cost if you published them. I worked on a Powtoon for my submission ( Free)well free until you wanted to download it. A matter of money. And the tool was not thoroughly vetted . On one browser it had voice over, on another different qualities for color , and there was always the subtle suggestion that for a fiver, they would do it for you. IMovie is excellent except it kept going dark. Why? I did not have time to find out.

When you have spent hours learning to do something and you have to pay to use it and you did not expect to.. that’s a bummer. I spent about a hundred dollars trying to make a Powtoon video. I actually made a pretty good one but I could not regulate the sound and the instructor complained.

I did not expect that. I expected a guiding question to help me know what was wrong.

So I chose another one that was suggested. Many programs, after you create have , had a paywall. ARRGH!! $210.00 and we have a Movavi Video.

Here is what I said…

I was pretty sure of my use of technology before this course. With the video I was a basket case. I had gotten used to making animated sharings and small movies on Google pictures. I struggled with the video. Why? I guess I did not know the components of what. The instructions were clear, but inside some of the offered programs were paywalls and valuable time was wasted. The video I submitted was probably not my best. I had a beautiful one on Powtoon but the sound was so loud I could not share it. I had no way , except to pay some more to get that adjusted. I used every program they listed in the course to find one that was comfortable. I did not have IT support. I wanted it to be me based, or teacher based like we often are across the digital divide. That did not work.

I stumbled through several programs and really liked a few, but paused when the paywall came up and I knew that it would be published since it was “free” One of my baby steps in creating a video is sadly available.

Things I did not do that would have made it better. I should have changed to the PC when I could not right click instead of asking what was wrong. I should have upgraded my browsers and I did. I loved the IMovie. It was awesome. But since I have toys, IPad, Mac, IPhone before this course, I used them very separately for the most part. I learned the value of integrating them into a system. I actually completed a video using IMovie, but I kept getting a dark screen from time to time. Technology mistakes gave me and everyone around me a headache. I had a friend who is the ultimate in tech support but I felt that I should be able to do it without cheating.

There were ideas offered but I saw those before I went down the video trail. MP4? I think I suggested a boot camp for video but as in education, each person has their own store and set of tools, and know how and individualized learning even with stumbles was invaluable. The journey to completion or acceptance of a certain system is personal. It helps a lot if an IT professional is in person.

I have never so believed in ISTE or GenYES.

My students did outstanding work from understanding what our sources of water are our watershed, to understanding what an estuary was , to creating a watershed runoff model, to understanding global water needs and how to be a citizen scientist.

Not bad for a community activist trying to make a difference. Amount of technology where I work? Zero. At the aquarium,in ecosystems and exhibits.

How do I know they understand run off? We made a model city and polluted it and collected the water for evaluation. See above.

We learned about the Global Impact of Water. We loved this book and the online video.

The Water Princess – YouTube

How do I know that they understand shorelines and estuary?


Where did I learn my teaching techniques, well working for the National Geographic KidsNetwork.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center was outstanding .

Here is what we did…

This program was adapted for a range of ages. It focused on science as narrative, and a collection of facts, procedures, and observations that lead to understanding the world. The guiding question of the trip was, “How do scientists tell the story of clean water, and how do people fit into that story.” We focused on science as fact based, though hands-on inquiry at each station.

Plankton/ Microscopes
Students began with a short introduction about the difference between clean water, dirty water, and treated water. They then discovered how plankton plays a role in clean and dirty water, specifically related to humans. Students were given a plankton sample and filamentous algae from the Bay, and then were asked to sort phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Oysters and Model Oyster Reef Sorting
Students began by exploring the different types of bivalves that live in the Bay, and then learned about how oysters live together and their biological function. They then attempted to build a model oyster reef to determine its habitat structure and then sort through a model reef that has been colonized by fish and invertebrates from the Bay. They sorted the organisms and learned about the role that oysters play in clean water and Bay habitat.

Seining
Students began by discussing how researchers might study nearshore organisms, and learn how SERC researchers use seining nets to catch fish and invertebrates. They will discuss the term “biodiversity” and how biodiversity might be an indicator of water’s health.

They then collected data by donning waders and use seining nets to sample the populations. Students concluded with a short discussion about their findings and what they might mean.  

Watersheds
Students explored how a watershed works through narrative and a 3D watershed model. They then demonstrated how material gets into and is carried through a watershed. After this they discussed how the properties of water can be described, and then demonstrated by using a secchi disc and sounding lead as well as a hydrometer.

Blue Crabs
At this station students were introduced to the anatomy and biology of blue crabs. They learned about their natural history, from what they eat to when and where they migrate. Students then visited with a live blue crab and studied its anatomy and movement up close. They then finished with a short discussion about blue crab research here at SERC and look at crab pots with excluders. I had cooked crabs on ice for them to take home to eat.Eat a crab lab if you will.

Science should be inclusive, not exclusive.

I believe in the seven E’s .There are seven stages which include elicit, engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate and extend.

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The Smithsonian, the Nation’s Attic , A Favorite Learning Place of Mine

 I must confess that I have been learning at the Smithsonian museums forever.
My mother went to the Baptist Church which started at 10 A.M. p on Sunday, and I was getting on the bus at that time to get to Washington DC, to be at the Smithsonian when it opened on Sunday. There are many Smithsonian Museums  so I would do the dance of which one before I departed from Alexandria , Virginia , and run happily to the museum of my choice. Mind you there is one Smithsonian museum I have never been to, but it is in New York. I intend to go there to it some day. I have former students working in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum NYC and of the museums in New York, I have never visited the American Indian Museum Heye Center (NYC)
I live within walking distance of the Mall , and so I rarely need to think about parking , weather
exceptions for that statement.

Learning Abour the world at the Smithsonian Summer  Camp

Smithsonian Summer camp

I used to have a funder who like me LOVED museums. But Jack Taub was in New York with a lot of different museums. Before he passed, we often shared the wonder of what museums can do as teaching institutions. I also had a friend John Scully who was at that time in charge of Apple and we thought a lot about museums as schools. What a wonderful thing that is. Often there are many people who never get to go to museums, or who get involved in the learning that is sustained , cultivated and nurtured by groups within the museum.
I attended the Summer Folklife Fesitval and found a way to infuse myself into a group going to India, on a Fulbright. Who knew a museum was a place to further learning and that it might be possible for me to go to India. I did and we visited about 26 cities officially, we also took a side trip to Nepal.
We were a group of teachers learning about the country of India. What a wonderful experience and extension of the exhibit that was about India on the mall. I think it was what made me geographically
interested in the rest of the world and it gave me a new perspective on cultures. We visited schools, and communities in many cities in India. We also absorbed the culture. In the mornings we read the newspapers and learned what was important in the news in India. We studied religions, yoga, the food and drink, and clothing. We learned history of India that is not a part of regular school teaching.
The Tiger of Mysore? The British influence on India. We visited museums and archeological places.
it was the experience of a lifetime for me. It is a huge country and transportation then was sometimes a bit difficult. Technology was not so widespread then. India
Our task was to collect information about the games and education in India. We visited many cities in various parts of India. I cannot tell you which was the most interesting part of India, and I cannot share my photos because I have not converted them into modern images. I was carrying a Nikon with eight lenses. I loved getting up in the morning early to go take photos before our classes, lectures and excursions. A group of us had guidebooks, and resource and we studied each city in depth before we arrived there. India is bigger than the imagination from the caves, to the architecture to the intricate weavings and the many religions.  I found the markets intriguing , and the things to buy amazing, arts and crafts, so intricate and beautiful.
The Smithsonian Taught me about Seeds of Change, two old worlds coming together.
Another stunning example of how the Smithsonian educates is the work that was done around the Columbus Quincentennary.

October 26, 1991 – May 23, 1993

Museum: Natural History Museum, Studying Seeds of Change

Examined the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes include the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World. Introductory film, on first floor, What a joy it was to be on a committee and work with Smithsonian researchers and to go to the Smithsonian for updates and involvement. Just the information about the origin of foods in the world  was quite interesting.  I even had a chance to teach and cook with kids in the museum as a teacher in the summer program and we actually had a garden, we were helped by gardeners , but we tended to the garden on the Smithsonian grounds raising traditional crops during that summer.

THere was history too, so exciting. There were real emeralds brought in and gold from the conquistadors, and the examination of the diseases that weakened the natives of America,

[Learning About Each Other]

Sharing Our Differences;
Learning From Each Other


From Two Worlds to One World

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

So what does that mean to people living in the world today? Why is Columbus an important person? Why do we celebrate something that happened over 500 years ago?

Here is a place that is of the Smithsonian, and is probably a surprise to most people the SERC Learning Lab. Parents and children happily studied on the dock, we were real scientists at work.

The Sant Hall of Science 

SERC  Smithsonian Research Center

The Smithsonian Information Center in the Castle is centrally located at 1000 Jefferson Dr., SW, Washington, D.C. Ten of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., span an area from 3rd to 14th Streets between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km)
There are convenient places to rest, to picnic to , eat,  and to learn on the outside of the museums too. I was educated by Smithson’s legacy. My schools were not so good , but the museum staff people and their work gave me a world wide education.
There are busses to the far museums, but you have to metro to the Zoo.National Zoo
The National Zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., approximately 30 minutes by car or public transportation from the National Mall. Public parking is available for a fee.
Zoo directions »Anacostia Community Museum
The Anacostia Community Museum is located in Fort Stanton Park at 1901 Fort Place, SE, Washington, D.C. Free public parking is available.
Anacostia Community Museum directions »Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia, near the intersection of Rts. 50 and 28. Public parking is available for a fee.
Udvar-Hazy Center directions 
The mall is this wonderful green expanse of lawn that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and I have footsteps all over that Mall. There are besides the museums, special events, and classes and outeach to teachers. So I was there a lot.  Sometimes I would go in and gaze at the tomb of the founder of the Smithsonian , James Smithson in the castle.
Here is the website to the Smithsonian. http://www.si.edu/ It has always been the A in STEM for me. So when people ask me what about the Arts in STEM I know that they have no idea of my background. The Smithsonian Museums are my learning landscape. I have taken countless children to the various exhibits, workshops and demonstrations at the museums.
My favorite thing to do in the summer used to be to take the workshops that are so powerful that they
give for teachers.My mother used to tease that she saw me standing in line in the snow for various exhibitions. Not true. Parent thought that I worked for the Smithsonian to get kids interested in traveling there. I did teach using the resources of the Smithsonian. Here is a link to the study of air and space by very small students who loved the whole experience.Air and Space

The Smithsonian seeks to bring content experts and educators together to help strengthen American education and enhance our nation’s ability to compete globally. The Smithsonian serves as a laboratory to create models and methods of innovative informal education and link them to the formal  education system.

Studying the Chesapeake Bay, Using Digital Resources and the Arts!!

Exploring the Chesapeake Bay
Children who may not know the way of estuaries to the sea can learn using valuable online resources.
I use a different way of teaching. Marc Prensky is right. There are people who know a lot more than I do about the Chesapeake Bay.I became the facilitator for learning, connecting the dots and some of them were using the arts , digital media and hands on science by mistake really. I had training from the National Geographic which included maps, history, art and a great video.
I wanted to think how to fund all of this and how to create a rich environment . I wrote some grants, the parents and I had a meeting and we enlisted some help from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Chesapeake Bay is the most important water way in this area. I took courses at the National Aquarium in Baltimore , and learned to write curriculum  . For three years I investigated

estuaries, and then the Bay as a system and then the ocean. I think I would have become a Marine Biologist if I had not been swayed by technology and the Clinton administration. But I had the curriculum , but as usual not the permission to use it at my grade level and so I reached out to NASA, NOAA, National Geographic, the Chesapeake Bay Society and parents and I found a way to get a grant. When money is given in schools and principals sign their permission , you can do wonderful things.
The final trip was ito Baltimore
We started by sharing resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service
We did Duck Stamps. We drew Duck Stamps  and learned about the various ducks who come to the Chesapeake Bay.
Here is a set of photos and resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service
http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/  The people who came from the Fish and Wildlife Service brought posters and resources too.
The Fish and Wildlife people gave us a bus to the Blackwater facility. We saw ducks in the wild and had an outdoor excursion.
National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a beautiful place. It is expensive for students and we decided to do a bus tour.
Thank heavens for grants.
The education program is fantastics, we did adaptations and studied the salinity, turbidity waves and tides, microscopic life , seined and did pollution studies from different sites on the Chesapeake.But we did our homework. We read stories about the CHesapeake Bay, and wrote some of our own. We studied the maps of the bay and the estuary.
Smithsonian Estuary Research Center
You can see that we did a lot of work at this research center, before we had our “Eat a Crab Lab” and other activities
3.   About Crabs – Lesson 1
…ere the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District +————-+—————-+———– Lesson About Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet 108 1 Education Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting Crab Up A SERC: 518.370.8100 Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 1 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will use the Internet to learn about the Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to identify the…
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    Grade Level: K-5
4.   About Crabs
Where the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District Lesson About 108 Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet Education II 1 Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting 518.370.8100 Crab Up A SERC: Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 2 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will observe a live Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to distinguish between a male and fema…
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    Grade Level: 9-12
That service has a portable traveling lesson. I can’t think it is as exciting as being at the place.
If you look at the pictures you can see how fantastic it is. The children go out on a pier where there are stations . They have science experiments to perform.  We learned the data we needed to do the experiments back in the classroom.
One of my students surprised me. Since we were so early in the year in the crab season. I said if they caught a crab I would
buy a bushel to steam back at the school. Well this child had a plan. Her mother was a biologist. She captured an immature
stage of the crab and precisely identified it.  So we did have an eat a crab lab extra session.
The National Geographic had maps of the Chesapeake Bay and we took a canoe trip on one of the rivers we studied.
Blackbirds in the reeds, a smooth adventure.
National Geographic is partnering with groups – across a range of scientific disciplines – that are interested in exploring how FieldScope can better support student geographic learning and outdoor investigations.

FieldScope Projects  http://www.fieldscope.org/

This is awesome.

National Geographic FieldScope is a web-based mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool designed to support geographic investigations and engage students as citizen scientists investigating real-world issues – both in the classroom and in outdoor education settings. FieldScope enhances student scientific investigations by providing rich geographic context – through maps, mapping activities, and a rich community where student fieldwork and data is integrated with that of peers and professionals, adding analysis opportunities and meaning to student investigations.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay FieldScope Project is a “citizen science” initiative in which students investigate water quality issues on local and regional scales and collaborate with students across the Bay to analyze data and take action. Chesapeake Bay FieldScope is a project of National Geographic’s Education Programs in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.
Serc does on line teaching for everyone. But I did it from the Pier and Reed Center.
Marc Haddon was my contact for a long time there.

See the  SERC Lab
This was a teacher workshop
Art was mosaics, writing a play about the bay, drawing the animals of the bay, creating a workbook for people who loved the bay, and writing a grant, the kids did this, to be able to take field trips to photograph the bay.
I never knew that there was a  boating minority connection to the study of the Chesapeake Bay regarding Frederick Douglass.
He created with others , a boat building facility for blacks to be able to be involved in the shipbuilding enterprise.
Who knew?
We collected books and read them about the bay and its children.
In the end we loved best the study of Anoxia Mae.
We wrote a grant with the help of parents and had $5000.oo to spend on field trips, excursions, making movies and posters.
This was at Ashlawn School  in Arlington, Virginia.
We did a lot more than this. One of the things you learn from being a teacher trained by the National Geographic is that children with an interest in geography learn and share with the community. So my children went to the school board to complain about the filth in local streams, and got some help on organizing a clean up day with the Arlington County  Board.
I did not plan that idea. The kids did. You can see why theme based, supported project based learning is wonderful for students.
I am thankful for the training I had at the National Geographic Society as an educator.
If I was teaching now, in a classroom, I could add the GIS information to this program.
ESRI and the National Geographic help make for a rich learning experience for kids.
More resources for everyone are at My Wonderful World .org.